In-flight drug banquet: ham and cheese sandwiches with a side of coke

The gourmet ham and cheese sandwiches, packed and ready to go for the AeroMexico flight, seemed a little heavy? Oops, they sneaked cocaine into the in-flight food cart, again!

Just four months after a drug bust in its kitchens, Gate Gourmet Peru is back on the police radar, Peru’s weekly news magazine Caretas reported. The company is a franchise of the multinational Swiss and American-owned Gategroup, which prepares more than 500,000 meals for 270 airlines daily.

Early Monday morning, special agents from Peru’s Police Anti-Drug Unit, or Dirandro, found 13 kilos of cocaine tightly packed between the internal metallic walls of a food cart just one hour before it was to be loaded onto a Mexico bound flight.

The drugs, according to Gate Gourmet representatives, were found by one of their employees in company headquarters, located adjacent to the Jorge Chavez Airport’s takeoff ramp, in Lima’s Callao.

The employee, noticing that the ham and cheese sandwich-filled cart was abnormally heavy, called police.

When Dirandro agents inspected the cart, they didn’t immediately find anything. The cart had to be entirely dismantled before they could uncover the neatly packed cocaine hidden between the cart’s interior walls.

If the coke isn’t on the menu, how did it get there?

According to Dirandro, such an elaborate concealment of the drugs suggests that a well-run drug organization is working from inside Gate Gourmet Peru.

This isn’t the first time drugs have been sneaked into food carts.

In March 2002, a Gate Gourmet employee found 19 kilos of cocaine in an American Airlines in-flight food cart in Miami’s International Airport.

On Nov. 23, 2007, more drugs were found in a Gate Gourmet cart that came from Peru in an Amsterdam airport.

Three months later, on Feb. 24, police found two kilos in yet another cart in Gate Gourmet’s headquarters. The cocaine, hidden in the cart’s base, was to be sent off to Amsterdam aboard KLM flight Nº 23740.

Pushing its investigation one step further, the special Anti-Drug Unit drew up report Nº 172 in May. Though all the details of the report have yet to be released, Dirandro suspects the drugs are hidden while Gate Gourmet workers stock and clean the carts, though this should be done by airline staff.

Dirandro identified employees Juan Tamani de Souza and Henry Higa Capcha as “active members” of this clandestine in-flight food cart cocaine-packing organization, and also accused Gate Gourmet’s general manager, Domingo Luis Calos, of turning a blind eye on what is going on, Caretas reported.

He has “allowed the organization to function, although the issue is very sensitive, and until now has done nothing to demonstrate the implementation of any security measures whatsoever,” concluded the police report.

According to Dirandro, KLM Airport manager Claudia Makhlouf told Calos about the Nov. 23 drug bust in the Amsterdam airport, but he did not respond.

“These prior events explain the underlying reasons to infer that the general manager of Gate Gourmet Peru maintains some link in these matters, given the fact that up until now he has only adopted superficial measures that are dropped as soon as illicit drug enforcement authorities turn their attention elsewhere,” the police report reportedly concluded.

Some critics blame security hired by Lima Airport Partners, which runs the airport, for allowing an estimated 36 tons of drugs to be shipped abroad in 2007 alone. Police seized four tons in the Lima airport that same year.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.